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Questions tagged [pronunciation]

Questions regarding the pronunciation of Latin words or syllables, or the history of Latin pronunciation. The desired time period for the pronunciation in question should be added.

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35 votes
2 answers
12k views

How do we know how the Romans pronounced Latin?

A quick Google Search says plenty of things about Roman Latin pronunciation, and since it's an edu domain I'm inclined to believe it. However, the closest to citing a source it gets is saying "we know ...
user avatar
33 votes
3 answers
3k views

Are there exceptions to the Latin stress rules?

Do the Latin stress rules (antepenultimate if penultimate is light, penultimate if heavy) have any known exceptions? If so, what are the exceptions, and what evidence is there in the grammatical ...
jogloran's user avatar
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31 votes
4 answers
5k views

What effect should a macron have on the sound of a letter and its word?

Latin makes use of macrons (small lines above letters) to indicate a different pronunciation for that letter. Exactly what should the macron indicate about the pronunciation of the letter? Does the ...
ArtOfCode's user avatar
  • 413
29 votes
4 answers
1k views

When is an I not an I?

For whatever daft reason, the current trend in modern Latin orthography is to write consonantal 'i' (IPA /j/) as 'i' rather than as 'j'. How can we then tell whether a given 'i' is a vowel or a /j/, ...
jwodder's user avatar
  • 522
29 votes
1 answer
9k views

What are the classical names of the letters of the Latin alphabet?

When I refer to letters in Latin, I (sadly) use the English names for them. If I knew the Latin names, I could apply Classical Latin pronunciation rules to say them properly. So, how was each ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
27 votes
2 answers
5k views

When did “c” before “e” or “i” start to be pronounced as [ts] (in contrast to classical [k])?

In Classical Latin, "c" was always pronounced as "k". Since Renaissance Latin grammar reform, the correct pronunciation of "c" before "e" or "i" was codified to [ts]. So in Renaissance the true ...
Pavel V.'s user avatar
  • 1,863
26 votes
2 answers
5k views

How do we know how gn was pronounced in Classical Latin?

As far as I am aware, the classical pronunciation of -gn- (as in magnus) is not [gn] but [ŋn]. How do we know that this is in fact how -gn- was pronounced?
Earthliŋ's user avatar
  • 1,807
26 votes
2 answers
6k views

Why is 'r' often rolled in modern classical Latin?

During my Latin education (using classical pronunciation), I was taught that 'r' should be 'rolled', making a sort of growling sound. For example, the r's (more the second than the first set) in ...
user avatar
23 votes
1 answer
3k views

Why "ex nihilo" instead of "e nihilo"?

I was helping a friend earlier with an English-to-Latin translation and we started talking about the prepositions "a(b)" and "e(x)", which lose their consonant if the following word begins with one [...
sixty4bit's user avatar
  • 475
23 votes
2 answers
3k views

Was the final "-m" a "full-featured" consonant?

Is there any solid evidence supporting or denying the hypothesis that in Classical Latin the syllable-final vowel -m (especially at the end of the word) was only an orthographic convention, but in ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
21 votes
3 answers
4k views

When did 'ph' start to be pronounced like 'f'?

I learned from Nathaniel's answer to my previous question that 'ch', 'th' and 'ph' were aspirated voiceless stops in classical Latin. In my experience many contemporary speakers of Latin pronounce 'ph'...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
21 votes
4 answers
7k views

When did the consonant U (i.e., V) begin to be pronounced as the fricative [v] instead of [w]?

It's well established that the consonantal u (or v) was pronounced as [w] in Classical Latin (i.e., w as in wine). Of course, Romance languages developed voiced fricatives out of this u-consonant, ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
20 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why does "ῤάρος" have a smooth breathing?

I recently discovered that LSJ lists exactly two words beginning with ῤ (rho with a smooth breathing mark): ῤάρος and its diminutive ῤάριον. Most beginning Greek students are taught, of course, that ...
brianpck's user avatar
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18 votes
1 answer
8k views

What is an overview of the differences between Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin?

I'm aware of some of the differences in pronunciation between the two, and perhaps this can be covered in greater detail elsewhere, but are there also any other key areas of differences (with perhaps ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 291
17 votes
2 answers
579 views

How to read mathematics out loud?

Reading symbolic mathematical expressions out loud in any language is mainly folklore: everyone in the field knows how to do it but finding explicit written instructions is surprisingly hard. I have ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
887 views

Why is the "u" in "nuntius" and "nuntiare" long by exception?

First of all, a warm hello to all the users here! I was recently thinking about the pronunciation of nūntius and nūntiāre along with its derivatives (such as prōnūntiāre). According to "Latin for ...
Agrippa's user avatar
  • 163
15 votes
3 answers
1k views

How should I pronounce 'ait'?

I'm interested in the proper Classical pronunciation of the word 'ait'. I've been pronouncing it as 'ate', /eɪt/. Should it instead be pronounced as /a.it/ or even /aɪ.it/? What evidence is there ...
user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
1k views

Was avē truly pronounced with an "unspelled /h/"?

According to the etymology at Wiktionary, avē derived from a Punic word with an initial /h/, and was pronounced as such in the Classical period even though the word was spelt without. Is this claim, ...
jogloran's user avatar
  • 732
14 votes
2 answers
757 views

What was the sibilant in θάλασσα?

The word θάλασσα thálassa "sea" is spelled in various different ways, with different letters replacing the sigmas: some dialects had a tau, for example, while others had a theta. Do we know (through ...
Draconis's user avatar
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14 votes
1 answer
4k views

Were 'th' and 'ch' aspirated in classical Latin?

I have been taught that 'th' and 'ch' were pronounced just like 't' and 'c' in classical Latin, with no aspiration. The answer to this earlier question confirms that 't' and 'c' had indeed little or ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
1k views

Were voiceless stops (p, t, c, qu) aspirated in Classical Latin?

In English, the voiceless stops/plosives (p, t, k, "hard" c) are aspirated, particularly when beginning a word. That is, speakers release a burst of air when saying pop, tea, kaluha, or coffee (put ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
241 views

Why does "e" occur in forms of 'vōs' but not 'nōs'?

The forms of nōs and vōs exhibit a pattern, except in the genitive (nostrī/um, vestrī/um) and the possessive (noster, vester). Did vōs originally resemble nōs in all its forms, only to diverge later? ...
Slade's user avatar
  • 345
14 votes
1 answer
386 views

Greek pronunciation, invisible aspirations

Is there any evidence that aspirations that are as a result of composition no longer orthographically marked were still pronounced? Or to the contrary? I mean was προαίρησις pronounced proairesis or ...
Toothrot's user avatar
  • 589
13 votes
3 answers
335 views

How to transliterate 中文 in Mandarin pronunciation to Latin?

I am working on an art project that I would like to collect the hundreds of different transliterations of 「中文」 zhōng wén in Mandarin Chinese. (Pronunciation available here: https://translate.google....
Lun's user avatar
  • 131
13 votes
2 answers
534 views

Did the Romans confuse a long vowel with two short ones?

Consider the words sūs and sŭŭs. The former has one long u, the latter has two short ones in two syllables. For another similar pair with a different vowel, consider īmus and ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
1k views

Traditional English pronunciation of "dives"?

In the traditional English pronunciation of Latin—the one that gave us Caesar /siːzɚ/, Jupiter /dʒuːpɪtɚ/, epitome /əpɪtəmiː/, felix /fiːlɪks/, and virus /vaɪɹəs/—what should be the pronunciation of ...
Tim Pederick's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
2k views

Do we know how 'ng' was pronounced in classical Latin?

How was 'ng' pronounced in classical Latin and how do we know? I believe metric considerations strongly indicate that it was not a short consonant (/ŋ/ or other), but I can still think of two ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
894 views

In current teaching practice, what Latin pronunciation is most commonly taught in Europe?

I learned Latin in a US public school. Although pronunciation was admittedly never emphasized in the course, classical Latin pronunciation was always the ideal. I've met Latin students from across ...
echinodermata's user avatar
13 votes
0 answers
186 views

the kiskis and kankan debate: primary sources

There's a very famous story about how in the middle of the sixteenth century the Sorbonne University filed a legal claim to the Parlement de Paris re: the correct pronunciation of qu- in Latin, viz. ...
Alex B.'s user avatar
  • 11.7k
12 votes
2 answers
2k views

What are the arguments for Classical pronunciations vs. Ecclesiastical pronunciation?

I know to some degree it's a matter of taste, but are the arguments for one pronunciation being used over another? Is it simply a matter of taste, or are there claims that one is "correct" and another ...
James Kingsbery's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
686 views

Why does singular "mons" become plural "montes"?

Some singular third declension nouns, ending in -s, have a t in their stem, so: singular mons → plural montes infans → infantes miles → milites I understand these to be examples of "lingual" ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
1k views

What would a 5th-6th century learned Latin pronunciation have sounded like?

Is there any information on the status of learned pronunciations from the late imperial period up to 1000 CE? I am wondering because the Classical Latin reconstruction seems to make clear that by the ...
Andonis Neilous's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
6k views

What makes a syllable "heavy" or "light"?

The rules for positioning of syllable stress in Latin are relatively simple; they are as follows: In two-syllable words, the stress always falls on the first syllable. In three or more syllable ...
Ethan Bierlein's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
4k views

When is "ei" a diphthong?

Many introductory Latin books will explain that Classical Latin has four diphthongs: ae and au are common, while oe and ei are rarer. (Eu and ui also show up, but if I understand right that's a Greek ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.6k
11 votes
2 answers
705 views

Are vowels long before "gn"?

Allen and Greenough, §10d, provide a general rule: A vowel before ns, nf, gn, is long: as in cōnstāns, īnferō, māgnus [emphasis modified] This seems to agree with Priscian: 'gnus' quoque vel '...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is pronouncing 'th' as 's' in 'Boethius' typical in any common Latin pronunciation scheme?

I'm listening to lectures by theologian Douglas Kelly (Medieval Theology, lectures 7 and 8), in which he repeatedly pronounces the name Boethius as: boh-EE-see-us (how it sounds to me) /boʊˈiːsiəs/ (...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
940 views

How to pronounce "Roterodamus"?

The adjective roterodamus means “of Rotterdam” (the city in Holland). To lovers of Latin, unless they entertain an unusual interest in Dutch geography, the word is familiar probably primarily because ...
Sebastian Koppehel's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
4k views

Did the Romans pronounce ph like the letter f or the letter p?

I'm wondering – how would the Romans have pronounced ph if these letters were together in a word like "triumphantes"? Would it be pronounced like the letter f or the letter p? Did the Romans even ever ...
Landon's user avatar
  • 111
11 votes
1 answer
229 views

What is the earliest example of the monophthongisation of 'oe'?

Salvete amicae amicique, I have read lots of sources that state that in the 3rd Century AD. people started pronouncing the diphthong 'oe' as /e:/. However, I can't find any evidence - what I am ...
Paulus Filius Rogeri's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
5k views

How to pronounce “mihi” in a Magnificat?

This question came up recently in my choir: how should we pronounce “mihi”? The sentence is from a psalm: Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est. We’ve encountered it in two Magnificats, the first ...
Édouard's user avatar
  • 213
11 votes
5 answers
4k views

How did Latin sound?

Does anybody know how normal Latin dialog sounded — not the oratory or ecclesiastical versions? Are there any audio files that you recommend?
Valugi's user avatar
  • 219
11 votes
1 answer
240 views

Did the Romans drop the x from "maxilla"?

C.M. Weimer quotes Cicero's Orator, 153, in this answer: How was the name of your ancestor changed from Axilla to Ala except from a desire to avoid a harsh-sounding letter? The same letter is ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
  • 15.9k
10 votes
2 answers
718 views

Minimal pair for hidden quantity

Is there an example where the quantity of a vowel makes a difference in a syllable that is heavy by position? For a concrete example, this does happen in Finnish (where long vowels are written as ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
421 views

Are there minimal pairs between the acute and circumflex accent?

Ancient Greek had two (*) different types of accent on long vowels: the "circumflex" accent indicates high tone on the first mora, and the "acute" accent indicates high tone on the second. (Short ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.6k
10 votes
4 answers
3k views

Is "s" between two vowels voiced or unvoiced?

I am phrasing the question as an absolute though I am well aware that the answer could be "we don't know" or "depends on your pronunciation." I often hear church choirs pronounce miserere with a ...
brianpck's user avatar
  • 41.5k
10 votes
3 answers
11k views

How did the Romans pronounce roman numerals?

As I understand it, their notation (subtractive notation?) is quite hard and tedious to work with even for its natives. In fact, many numbers are themselves math problems. How did they speak of their ...
Lemma Prism's user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
611 views

An example sentence for Latin pronunciation

Latin pronunciation varies between times and locations, and to some extent individuals. If I want learn a new kind of pronunciation, make sure I have properly switched to a new pronunciation, or want ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
2k views

Did an internal m nasalize the preceding vowel?

We know that the final m was not a full consonant in classical Latin, but denoted nasalization and elongation of the preceding vowel. See this or this old question for more details. Was this effect ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

How is Latium pronounced?

The Merriam Webster definition gives the following pronunciation: \ˈlā-sh(ē-)əm\. But this doesn't sound right to me. I have never heard the consonant 't' pronounced this way in Latin. Which leads me ...
ktm5124's user avatar
  • 12k
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

What do we know about Vulgar Latin pronunciation?

Nowadays, most Latinists learn the "reconstructed classical" pronunciation: an attempt at reconstructing the way Cicero, Caesar, or Vergil might have spoken in formal settings. However, it seems ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.6k

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